The Ohio House Rules and Reference Committee has heard over 30 hours of testimony from proponents and opponents of HB 597, the Common Core repeal bill, but the Committee wants to hear more. Another hearing has been proposed with a tentative date of October 14th. This time the focus will be on practicing teachers and so the hearing will be held in the evening to accommodate teaching schedules.

So far the Committee has heard from parents, a few teachers, school board members, representatives of think tanks, and people entrenched in the education establishment in Ohio such as superintendents, heads of non profits providing consulting and curriculum development services to schools, union leaders, and statewide PTA leadership.

The co-sponsors of the bill now want to hear from “actual teachers in the field” who have not been able to speak their mind to date as they have been busy doing what teachers do – teach students. Gongwer News Service quotes the Chairman of the Committee and one of HB 597’s co-sponsors Rep. Matt Huffman as follows,

“What we’re going to begin to do is bring in folks who are independent analysts, actual teachers in the field who’ve had experience with these Common Core.”

“I don’t put much stock in the representative of some group who comes in and says, ‘these are good standards,’ because the experience I’ve had so far is when I ask them, ‘tell me what your analysis is,’ they really haven’t done an analysis. It’s just that’s what they believe is true because other folks have told them.”

With respect to some of the teachers who have been in to testify to date, Rep. Andy Thompson, the bill’s other co-sponsor, told Gongwer,

“The other side (the bill’s opponents) had their teachers, which kind of had the same testimony repeated several times. What we had pretty much was union teachers come in and saying that they thought it was pretty great.”

Gongwer explains that Thompson wants to hear how the standards are affecting teachers’ time in the classroom. Are teachers able to devote enough time to instruction or are they side-tracked by forms and data input as a result of some of the performance measurement aspects of Common Core?

Rep. Thompson told Gongwer that he has spoken with teachers who have not been able to testify yet because of their teaching schedule.  Teachers have told him “almost nobody likes this”.

And why should teachers like Common Core? Veteran teachers with masters degrees have had to undergo retraining to teach to the standards. English teachers are seeing the emphasis on classic literature disappear and math teachers are seeing simple concepts made complex through Common Core’s fixation on solving equations pictorally.

But teachers stand to lose if they speak out against Common Core. School district administrators have committed millions of dollars to Common Core implementation. Bucking the system means bucking their bosses who have taken scarce tax dollars and bet them on an untried academic system.

For those teachers who do testify, be sure to thank them and let their district leadership know that their independence is valued.

But to be sure, teachers afraid of speaking out against union and school district leadership is not a new phenonemon. It’s as old as the hills. The environment of fear and intimidation that many teachers feel at work has likely contributed more to our education system’s underperformance than any lack of content standards ever has.